Homeschool Spanish Teacher's Guide To Choosing Curriculum
It is an honor to write and share my experience with you about Spanish learning and homeschooling. A “homeschooling” parent has to be able to wear the teacher’s hat and make the decisions about what children are going to learn and how they are going learn. One of the challenges I had to face every year “as a parent” was choosing the right curriculum for my children; like many of you I try to keep things simple I want my children to have fun learning but I also want something manageable for our homeschool lifestyle. I want my children to learn from the best but I do not want something so complicated that we all will give up and cause the learning to stop.
Yes, I am Spanish teacher but I am also a homeschool mom so when I put myself in your shoes I try to think about your Spanish curriculum needs from a homeschool parent’s perspective. We all look for options that are:
- Simple - We do not want to lose our head trying to figure out how the curriculum works
- Cost effective - we don’t want to try something and then later realizing this is not for our children.
- Efficient - if the curriculum is not working then learning is not happening! And because of that most likely we may be skipping the subject because it just seems to complicated for everyone to use and usually the result will be frustration for everyone involved.
What to look for in a Spanish Curriculum?
Age is crucial when deciding what to use. If you want to start teaching your children during the primary years I will recommend using a curriculum that uses themes or topics that make the learning process more intuitive and natural. Look for the following aspects in a curriculum:
- Vocabulary - by theme or topic relevant to these ages.
- Visuals - such as flashcards
- Listening - such as songs, videos
- Fun practices - it can include worksheets but simple and fun
- Kinesthetic learning - moving around, making the learning real.
In other words, you are looking to expose the child to the language. Play is key! A lot of color and movement is extremely useful and effective! We want children to want to learn the language rather than scaring them and making them hate Spanish.
Middle and High School years
Learning the language during these years will require structure and consistency. This does not mean fun and real learning have be absent but will require more discipline from everyone. In addition, I want you to consider the following suggestions before you choose your Spanish curriculum at this age:
- Readiness to learn the language more in depth - Be aware of the maturity of your child; I have students who are in 4th- 5th grade and they are using my program ( I must say “mom” is passionate about the language too).
- Level of Independency - Homeschooling children have the tendency to become more independent learners at an early age. (some)
- Parent knowledge about the language - Based on my experience, “most” parents don’t know the language, even if they know the language they may not be able to “teach” it. Therefore, finding a curriculum that gives your child teacher support will be the best. However, remember children’s learning success is always better when parents are involved and overseeing the learning regardless of the subject.
What do I mean by learning with more “structure” ? It means I recommend the following aspects to be present in the curriculum:
- Vocabulary - to make the learning meaningful
- Grammar - to bring order, logic and common sense to the learning
- Speaking and listening - to bring real application to the learning experience
- Writing and reading - to support communication and comprehension skills
- Teaching from an expert - language is like math, requires a building process, moves from beginning level to inter-medium - advance.
- Assessment and practices - to measure progress
- Culture - I call this the “perfume” of the language. Culture makes learning fun, real and engaging
If your children are like mine they may question your decision to make them study a second language! Your attitude and response are key to this process. My husband and I always reminding our kiddos about the benefits, the requirements and the advantages of learning a second language. As a teacher, I always remind my students about the “why” they are learning Spanish, I focus on the finish line not the obstacles, it helps them to understand my point when I use the subject of music to explain Spanish learning; I say to them following: Spanish is like music! You can learn the musical notes, rules, concepts but If I give you a music sheet and I ask you to play a song, the answer may be “I can't! So just because I have certain skills does not mean I know how use them and apply them to produce something. My 16 years of experience teaching Spanish to hundreds of students have allowed me to see and learn what it takes to see happy students being able to feel they are actually learning with a purpose and in a meaningful way the spanish language.
Concluding Tips & Advice
Look for a curriculum that will give your child enough structure to build their learning. Do you noticed the word “enough”, why did I say that because I am a homeschool mother and I know for sure that life in a homeschool family is not the same everyday. Some parents took the time to share with me some additional needs homeschool families need in a Spanish curriculum: flexibility, convenience, fun, engaging, self-paced, own time - so here are some extra suggestions I make when looking for Spanish a curriculum that’s:
- User friendly - it can be adjusted to your homeschool lifestyle
- Has some level of support - specially if you do not speak the language
- Accessible - technology is extremely useful when learning a language and to fitting crazy schedules, family trips, etc.
- Meets state or world language standard - do not forget students at this age may be working towards language requirements, meaning credits.
- Some level of accountability to help with the consistency.
I created this pdf guide about what to expect the first year of Spanish. Feel free to request it:
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Thank you for reading my post, I said this before and I will say it again: it is an honor to share my experience and knowledge with you.I really hope I was able to help you and answer some of your questions. If not please free to write me at email@example.com
P.S. COMING NEXT
On my next post I will write about the number #2 questions I am always asked: Is Rosetta Stone the curriculum my child should use?